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The Spanish Facades

The diversity of the world is not only applicable between countries. One country or a small island itself has multiple differences when it comes to customs, culture, and traditions shaped by a long history. A single region may posses a variety of lifestyle but may still be able to share one identity as a nation. This scenario is not unusual within a state. As past experiences mold each territory, its traces leave behind evidences of unique traits which are different from one region to another.

For a country which is not even the largest in the world, its diversity which can be seen in all aspect of its existence, is rich beyond the national income it earns. The second largest country situated in Western Europe and one of the most world’s most powerful conquerors, the approximate 505,988 square kilometers (Taus-Bolstad 9) size of Spain has a huge diversity which can be found in countries four times its size. As Edward Stanton described Spain in his book Culture and Customs of Spain: Spain is a country that clings tenaciously to its traditions, where people feel more loyalty to their town and region than to the national government.

It is divided into seventeen semiautonomous regions that speak four different languages, have ancient rivalries and compete with each other for resources and power. (Stanton 1) From the preceding texts, Spain’s cultural diversity is rooted from regional differences. Its diversity stretched from Spain’s landscapes — where deserts can be found in Murcia and Almeria while rainforests are abundant in Galicia — to the different people of Castilian Spanish, Basques, Catalans, and Galicians who speak different dialects (Rider and Holtom 30).

In a country where the size is considered as average, its plethora of cultural diversity makes someone feels like they have experienced the world. These four classifications of the Spanish heritage come from the different identities that have been formed within the different provinces in these regions. The urbanized province of Barcelona with its capital bearing the same name is located at the autonomous region of Catalonia in the eastern part of Spain. It is the home of the magnificent gothic structures ranging from majestic churches that are combined with the modernity of the new buildings.

Barcelona is a province wrapped in a calm glamorous modernity and antiquity. The Catalans, people inhabiting the region of Catalonia, believe in the values of seny and rauxa. The former refers to a “natural wisdom treated with pious reverence,” while the latter is believed that “to have a touch of madness is to keep them sane” (Gallagher and Symington 254). It is an elegant and at the same time, a busy province. Barcelona’s opposing characteristics reflect what Spain has.

The Andalucia region is one of the autonomous communities which include provinces whose structures are heavily influenced by its former Muslim invaders. Located at the southern part of Spain, it stretches from the coastlines of the Mediterranean Sea where it has the best beaches in the country. Among the popular provinces in the Andalucian region are Seville, Granada, and Cordoba. Summer season can be really hot and the beaches become famous tourist spots during this time. Seville has the most number of visitors in Andalusia where the famous Flamenco dance originated.

It is known for its colorful festivals after the Holy Week, as well as the sleepless marcha (nightlife) and other celebrations (Noble, Forsyth, and Maric 90). Seville is definitely the center of economic and tourist activities in the Andalucian region of Spain. Another region that has a distinct culture and language is the rural region of Galicia which is located at the northern part of Spain. Its culture has drawn influences from Spain’s neighboring country, Ireland and its provinces are divided into four, where the towns of A Coruna and Vigo are some of the famous ones in the Galician region.

If Barcelona is a place of scenic sepia due to its gothic architecture, Galicia is a group of provinces whose greenery palette stretch from its hills to its forests. Since the region faces the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, it is also famous for its fishing towns and local seafood cooking (Rider and Holtom 59). Its green environment is due to the rainy weather that mostly occurs in Galicia and thus labeled as ‘wet Spain’ (Rider and Holtom 93). The rural nature of the Galician region includes ‘walking’ as an important part of their life, from going to the farm down to the social events (Cole and Davies 6).

It is an inevitable part of their culture because by walking, they can appreciate the vastness of Galicia’s natural heritage. The many faces of Spain continue with the region of the Basque Country or known to the natives as El Pais Vasco. Among the many regions in Spain, the Basque country has the most unique characteristics. Some says that this region does not feel very Spanish and can be evident from the names of its provinces (Guipuzkoa, Bizkaia, and Araba) are somehow different (Gallagher and Symington 426).

Two of its most popular cities include Bilbao and San Sebastian. Just like Galicia, the Basque Country thrives on fishing and is famous for their fish cuisines. The region is regarded to be an industrial place but has maintained the calmness and serenity without the hassles and noises of the city. One of its cities, Bilbao, has been described as “vital, vibrant, and culturally dynamic, yet somehow stress-free and, above all, civilized in the true sense” (Simonis, Forsyth, and Noble 453).

For people who have not witnessed and experienced Spain first hand, it would give an impression of a Christian nation which deeply enjoys bullfighting, flamenco dancing, and paella. However, knowing it closely opens to Spain’s many facades. One cannot imagine how diverse this country can be if it is to be examined closely. Spain is indeed a diverse world and its regions offer each pieces of its uniqueness. These pieces have made Spain as it is. Works Cited Cole, Ben and Bethan Davies. Walking the Via de la Plata.

Vancouver, CA: Pili Pala Press, 2004. Forsyth, Simonis. , Noble, John and Damien Simonis. Spain. Oakland, Ca: Lonely Planet, 2007. Gallagher, Mary-Ann and Andy Symington. Spain. United Kingdom: Footprint, 2004. Holtom, Harvey and Nick Rider. Spain. United States: The Globe Pequot Press, 2005. Maric, Vesna. , Forsyth, Susan and John Noble. Andalucia. Oakland, Ca: Lonely Planet, 2006. Stanton, Edward. Culture and Customs of Spain. Westport, Ct: Greenwood Press, 2002. Taus-Bolstad, Stacy. Spain in Pictures. United States: Twenty-First Century, 1997.

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